Nonstandard American English (I coulda been a contenda.)
Good morning, kids. I'm hoping the rain won't make me too much of an English prude as I explore the ever-fun concept of nonstandard English. Before I even begin, I acknowledge that we all have lazy days in our communication and that thanks to texting (which I am pretty much addicted to), it is common for us to use shortcuts. I usually don't mind these informal acronyms and such. My only real pet peeve is when people type "LOL" after their own joke. If you must do it in response to someone else being funny, by all means, do so. But, please, do not laugh out loud at your own joke.
Moving on. Do any of these 'words' show up in your vocabulary?
coulda, could of, shoulda, should of, gonna, gotta, wanna
Remove them immediately. Please. Most people I've discussed this with acknowledge how 'coulda' and 'shoulda' are not words, but many are still convinced 'could of' and 'should of' are correct. I think the 'phrases' have been used so frequently and not corrected that they have become part of the lexicon. When trying to use any of the first four phrases, the word "have" makes it correct.
I could have gone, but I could not find anyone to go with me.
I should have gone regardless of the fact.
In a similar vein, gonna, gotta, and wanna should make their exits.
'Gonna' is lazy for 'going to.' Many think 'gotta' is short for 'got to,' but it is actually used for 'have to.' Lastly, 'want to' is so much more pleasing to the ear than 'wanna.'
I am going to keep calling until I can speak with someone. I have to ask someone questions. I want to speak to someone instead of talking to a machine. But enough about my morning so far.
The next concepts are not so much nonstandard American English as they are word choices that are incorrect.
When I ask someone how they are, and they reply "I'm doing good," I cringe. That person had to throw in the word 'doing' and mess it all up. It is acceptable to say, "I am good." It's a little egocentric and vain, but it is a sentence. The word 'am' is a form of the 'be verb' and is thus a state of being. However, when an action verb (doing) is thrown in, 'well' must be used.
I am doing well.
Let's step away from the 'be' verb for a moment or two. My high school French teacher, a man I still hold up as one of my favorites, taught me this phrase: Good job. Well done. If you can remember this, you will not confuse the two words. 'Good' always describes a noun and 'well' always describes an action.
I sing well. I am a good singer.
The same rule applies for bad and badly.
I run badly. I am a bad runner. (I'm working on it.)
You know that Rolling Stones song "Satisfaction"? I love it, too. However, it has a double negative in its chorus: "I can't get no satisfaction." If you look at this sentence, there are two 'negative' words in it: cannot and no. When you have such a combination, you have a double negative. The two negatives cancel each other out, and a positive remains. By claiming that they cannot get 'no,' they are in fact getting some.
He don't give me no money. When this is uttered, it is supposed to mean that this male is not giving the speaker any money. However, it means just the opposite, right?
So, to correct this, there are two common changes: remove one of the negative words or change 'no' to any.
First, let's change that "don't" to its grammatical 'doesn't' (or 'does not' if we want to avoid contractions).
He does not give me any money. or He gives me no money. Whichever you choose reflects your style, but these avoid double negatives.
Moving on. There are some two-part words that are often misused. They revolved around the prefixes 'any', 'every', and 'some.' They do sound like they should be two separate words, but with some noted exceptions, they are not.
any: anybody, anyone, anything, anyway, anywhere (The 'word' anyways is nonstandard English. It is often misused.)
every: everybody, everyone, everything, everywhere... The exception here is 'every time.' When this word is used, it means each time. Every time I call I get the machine. (See commonly confused words for a bit on every day.)
some: somebody, someone, something, somewhere, sometime
Before leaving this sub-topic, "another" is one word, instead of 'an other.' The opposite rule applies for 'a lot,' which is always two words.
A lot of people request another refill when they go out to eat.
One last thing today. It is far too big of a topic to get into here. However, be careful in your writing with mixed audiences that you do not use cliches.
It's raining cats and dogs today. I am feeling under the weather. Let's break the ice.
These are not meteorological terms. Someone unfamiliar with these expressions will be afraid to go outside. I love using them in fiction and memoir. I would never use them in formal writing. To end this on an amusing note, I want to share a brief story of a teaching moment maybe a year or so ago. I was teaching English to a man of French descent. He could not understand the expression 'poster' as in "The poster that was hung on the wall advertised the newest movie." According to my French friend, a 'poster' is what he calls a mail carrier. Imagine his shock when the mail carrier was hung to a wall and forced to advertise a new movie.
Okay, kids. I have to get back on the phone. I am going to be happy when everything works out my way. Until then, anyone have a topic they would like me to approach?
More by this Author
Okay, kids. We're going to talk about pronouns again. Come back here. Okay, so today I want to focus on three sub-categories of pronouns: (see title). Let's start with perhaps the most confusing -...
Okay, kids. Today we're going to talk about possessive pronouns. As you remember, a pronoun is used to replace a noun, to avoid stating the noun ad nauseum. If it is possessive, break up with it immediately. If it...
A teacher can tell you right off what you will need to fix on your resume.